PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland City Council is working to determine the best practices for policing after wrapping up an hours-long meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting came as the city prepares for the upcoming bargaining negotiations with the Portland Police Association.
The Mayor’s Office released a statement on the work session saying “it’s [the council’s] goal to draw on national best practices in police union contracts as a guideline to help ensure a meaningful negotiation process that results in a contract that serves the interest and welfare of the public and supports our officers. We will listen to any and all information that can potentially help us achieve our goal.”
City leaders listened to a presentation on the national best practices in police union contracts from a group called Campaign Zero. This group has collected police violence data across the country over the pasts several years to find structural policies that reduce police violence and police shootings.
“This work session is an important opportunity to make sure that the public and our officers are educated on what national best practices are,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “As our city and community continue to change and evolve I want to make sure that we are utilizing data and research to make decisions that reflect 21st-century public safety and community policing principles.”
The meeting focused on how police contracts currently block accountability, with practices such as:
- Disqualifying misconduct complaints when an investigation takes too long
- Preventing police officers from being interrogated immediately after violence
- Giving officers access to information that civilians do not get prior to being interrogated
- Requiring cities to pay costs related to police misconduct including by giving officers paid leave while under investigation, paying legal fees, and/or the cost of settlements, and
- Limiting disciplinary consequences for officers
Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said the goal is to take some of these best practices suggestions as a guideline to realize her vision.
“PPB officers are on the front lines responding to emergency calls in our community. In our duties, officers strive to secure the safety and protection of the rights of all the Portland community,” she said. “I support a fair and objective process for bargaining for all of our members, but I also believe it’s important to hear from varying perspectives to make sure blind spots are addressed.”
Outlaw said their current staffing shortages and anticipated retirement presents an urgency on including good faith contracts as soon as possible.
“So I am hopeful that our negotiations result in contracts that is in the best interest of all stakeholders — not just our members, not just our community, but all stakeholders — to ensure that we are a competitive employer of choice.”
Adding to the fire, this meeting comes shortly after the city auditor released a report showing the PPB needs to improve it’s overtime management to help fix officer fatigue.
The audit found one patrol officer worked 97 hours in just one week. How is that possible? Currently, the Bureau’s program allows officers to provide off-duty security for private entities.
The auditor said overtime is costing the city nearly $16 million and raises safety concerns, saying it could undermine the integrity of the police force.
These suggestions from Campaign Zero and the city auditor are just that — suggestions. None of these items discussed today mean they’ll make it into the PPB contract.
This meeting was for the mayor, commissioners, police chief and community to be able to learn from and make better decisions based off data.
KOIN 6 News will continue to cover this story as it develops.